- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2010


BOSTON — President Obama’s African aunt testified on her own behalf at a closed hearing Thursday in U.S. Immigration Court, making another bid for asylum because of what her lawyer says includes medical reasons.

A spokeswoman for her lawyer said Kenya native Zeituni Onyango took the stand for about 2 hours. Amy Cohn, a spokeswoman for attorney Margaret Wong, said two doctors also will testify at the hearing, expected to last at least two more hours.

“The doctors are here in reference to her medical conditions, but that’s not the only aspect of the case,” Ms. Cohn said.

The 57-year-old Ms. Onyango arrived in a wheelchair Thursday, a cane across her lap.

In an interview in November with the Associated Press, she said she is disabled and learning to walk again after being paralyzed from Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.

It was not immediately clear when Judge Leonard Shapiro would rule. Lauren Alder Reid, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, said the judge could issue a decision Thursday after the hearing, could continue the hearing and hear additional testimony on another date, or could issue a decision later.

Ms. Onyango, the half-sister of Mr. Obama’s late father, moved to the United States in 2000. Her first asylum request was rejected, and she was ordered deported in 2004. She didn’t leave the country and continued to live in public housing in Boston.

Her status as an illegal immigrant was revealed just days before Mr. Obama was elected in November 2008. Mr. Obama has said he didn’t know his aunt was living in the country illegally and immigration law should be followed.

In November, Ms. Onyango said she never asked Mr. Obama to intervene in her case and didn’t tell him about her immigration difficulties.

“He has nothing to do with my problem,” she told the AP.

In his memoir, “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” Mr. Obama affectionately referred to Ms. Onyango as “Auntie Zeituni” and described meeting her during his 1988 trip to Kenya.

Ms. Onyango helped care for the president’s half brothers and half sister while living with Mr. Obama’s father in Kenya.

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